The Vatican

"Saints are not unreachable heroes," Francis encourages

On the Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful at the Angelus to consider that "the saints are not unreachable or distant heroes, but people like us, our friends, whose starting point is the same gift we have received."

Francisco Otamendi-November 1, 2023-Reading time: 3 minutes
pope all saints

Photo: The Pope during the Angelus on November 1.

On the traditional annual feast of All Saints' Day, November 1, Pope Francis said in the Angelus in St. Peter that "the saints are not unreachable or distant heroes, but people like us", and that "if we think about it, surely we have met some of them, some saints "next door": generous people who, with God's help, have responded to the gift they received and have allowed themselves to be transformed day by day by the action of the Holy Spirit".

Today, the day on which we celebrate the many unknown saints who have not been formally declared saints or blessed by the Church, the Holy Father wanted to fix his gaze "for a few minutes on holiness, in particular on two of its characteristics: it is a gift and, at the same time, it is a way".

"First of all, it is a gift," the Pope stressed. "Holiness is a gift of God that we have received in Baptism: if we allow it to grow, it can completely change our life (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exultate15), illuminating it with the joy of the Gospel".

"Holiness is a gift that is offered to everyone in order to have a happy life. And, after all, when we receive a gift, what is our first reaction?" Francis asked. "Precisely that we become happy, because it means that someone loves us; happy, "blessed", as Jesus repeats so many times today in the Gospel of the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:1-12)." But "every gift, however, must be accepted and carries with it the responsibility to respond, and the invitation to strive to ensure that it is not wasted". 

The Second Vatican Council recalls this when it affirms that all the baptized have received the same call to "maintain and perfect by their lives the holiness they have received" (Lumen gentium40), the Pontiff continued.

The saints, excellent companions on the road

With regard to the second point, the Pope stressed that the saints help us and are an example for us. "Holiness is also a journey, a journey to be walked together, helping one another, united to those excellent companions on the road who are the saints. They are our older brothers and sisters, on whom we can always count: they sustain us and, when on the road we err along the way, with their silent presence they never fail to correct us; they are sincere friends, on whom we can rely, because they desire our good, they do not point the finger at us and they never betray us. In their lives we find an example, from their prayers we receive help, and in communion with them we are united by a bond of fraternal love, as the liturgy says (cf. Roman Missal, Preface of the Saints I)".

With the saints, the Holy Father continued, "we form a great family on the way, the Church, made up of men and women of every language, condition and origin (cf. Rev 7:9), united by the same origin, the love of God, and oriented towards the same goal, full communion with Him, paradise: they have already reached it, we are on the way".

In conclusion, the Pope asked, as usual, some questions for examination: "Do I remember that I have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, who calls me to holiness and helps me to attain it? Do I thank him for it? Do I feel the saints close to me, do I turn to them? Do I know the history of some of them? It does us good to know the lives of the saints and to be motivated by their examples. And it does us a lot of good to turn to them in prayer."

"May Mary, Queen of All Saints, make us feel the joy of the gift received and increase in us the desire for the eternal goal," Francis said before giving the apostolic blessing.

Prayer for Ukraine, the Holy Land, and the dead 

After praying the Marian prayer of the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims from various countries, Germany, Mexico (Monterrey), Denmark and Italy, among them the pilgrims of the Saints Marathon of the Association of Don Bosco.

The Holy Father also announced that tomorrow afternoon he will celebrate Mass at the Commonwealth Cemetery, commemorating the fallen of World War II. He added: "Let us continue to pray for the people who suffer because of today's wars. Let us not forget the martyred Ukraine, nor Palestine, Israel and so many other regions of the world where war is present".

In addition, on Friday the 3rd at 11:00 a.m. a Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in suffrage for the late Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI and the cardinals and bishops who died during the year, as announced by the Vatican Press Office.

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.
Banner advertising
Banner advertising